Many small to mid-sized business owners in Dallas Fort Worth turn over duties like shopping for more affordable group health insurance quotes to their administrative assistants. This is an acceptable and perfectly normal practice.
Yet, an administrative assistant is often left with little guidance other from their boss other than “find a group health plan in Texas that is more affordable than what we have,” or to “shop around to find the best rates.” This article is designed to give the administrative assistance some basic information that can help the overall process and the results of shopping around for group health insurance.
First of all, businesses should know that group health insurance is a highly regulated and very competitive business. Four health insurance carriers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, United Healthcare, Aetna and Unicare represent about 80 % of the small group health insurance market in Texas. Each of these four group health insurance companies are financially “A rated, and have their own extensive PPO health care provider networks throughout the state.
Many of the other group health insurance companies that offer health plans “rent” another company’s PPO healthcare provider network. Some of these other health insurance companies are not as financially strong, with an AM Best rating of less than “A.” While many of these other group health insurance companies are good companies, a company should be sure to review plans from the top four companies first and should have a good reason why to consider another company’s plans.
If a business owner or administrative assistant picks up the phone and contacts each insurance company individually, they will waste considerable time and effort, and will not get any better rates than if they contacted a competent group health insurance broker who represents all or several companies.
Likewise, if a business owner or administrative assistant surfs the net and fills out a form with their company’s contact information and employee census information in order to get a quote, they can be assured of getting several calls a day for months, as that online form that they filled out was likely from a lead generation company that turns around and sells that information to dozens or hundreds of agents who will in turn contact the company and ask for an appointment.
The best place for a business owner or administrative assistant to start is to select a knowledgeable group health insurance broker or multi-line insurance agency who will listen to their needs and ask the questions that are needed to provide the type of plan designs and programs that will meet the business needs.
A company does not pay any more or any less for going through a group health insurance broker; the rates are the same whether a company works directly with an insurance company or through a broker. And since a broker will be much more attentive to the company needs than a big group health insurance company, the company will get service and expertise at no extra cost.
Actually, every group health insurance company in Texas reserves the right to modify the initial rates quoted to a company based on the underwriting of the individual employee health insurance applications, and a knowledgeable broker will make certain that their client knows this and may ask questions regarding the number of major health claims that the company incurred during the past year, or the number of known employees or dependents with health issues, so that the broker can give the company a better estimate of what the final rates may be before the applications are submitted to the group health insurance carrier for underwriting approval.
A knowledgeable group health insurance agent should also have a good general understanding of which insurance companies are likely to be the most competitive based on the type of company, the size of the business, and overall age makeup of the company’s workforce even before the underwriting process is completed.
A good to great group health insurance agent is truly a trusted advisor to the firm, and can recommend plan designs and programs that over the long term will save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as Consumer Driven Health Plans like health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements, and complementary programs like employee wellness plans that can work in tandem to reduce future health insurance rate increases.
A company should beware if a group health insurance agent promises to “save the company money” with competitive rates, without knowing anything about the company. Chances are the agent is trying to tell the company what they want to hear in order to win their business. Likewise, the group health insurance agent who “pushes” one company’s plans without presenting alternatives may have a hidden agenda. And the group health insurance agent who offers a round of golf, a free lunch, or ticket to sporting events to win a company’s business may also not have knowledge and expertise or have the company’s best interests at heart.
The Dallas group health insurance broker who has received specialized training in employee benefits and consumer driven health plan design, such as the CBC (Chartered Benefits Consultant) professional designation, and who asks the prospective client for a half hour of time to discuss their needs and get the information that they need to come back and present thought out recommendations based on a survey of all of the major carriers in the company’s area is the type of agent or agency that an administrative assistant can be assured has the company’s best interests at heart.